News A defiant George Osborne during Treasury Questions in the House of Commons

George Osborne refused to rule out a cut in the top rate of tax from 45p to 40p today as the Conservatives and Labour clashed over the economy.

US jobless claims ease by 17,000

The outlook for the US labour market brightened a little yesterday after official figures showed a greater than anticipated decline in the number of Americans making new claims for unemployment benefits last week.

US inflation rises by 0.2 per cent in October

Inflation in America was slightly higher last month, but core consumer prices – which strip out the impact of volatile food and energy costs – rose at their slowest annual pace on record, official figures showed yesterday.

Spanish ministers in talks with business after zero growth

The Spanish government plans high-level meetings next week with private sector executives and labour representatives after the country reported zero growth in the third quarter.

Electoral slurs declared foul play as Woolas loses seat for personal attacks

Former immigration minister in three-year ban from Commons

Sir Jock Stirrup reveals Labour vetoed cuts to forces

Proposals put forward by defence chiefs for "painful" cuts to the armed forces were vetoed by Labour ministers, it was claimed yesterday. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup,former chief of the defence staff, said that plans to reduce fast jet aircraft, ships and Army equipment were all overruled.

Dr Kelly wounds 'typical of self-inflicted injury'

Secret medical documents released today backed official conclusions that weapons inspector David Kelly killed himself as the Government sought to end speculation over his death.

Enlightenment, Hampstead Theatre, London

In one way it's business as usual at the Hampstead Theatre, a venue that draws its local audience from an area whose population is the densest in Europe – wait, the sentence isn't finished – with artists and writers. As before, the play takes on serious ideas and emotions but merely dabbles in them. But this first offering from Edward Hall, the new artistic director (who also directs the play) is a great step forward. While Hampstead plays, for the past several years, have delivered only irritation, dyspepsia and disbelief, Enlightenment is generous with entertainment – clever comedy, attractive and accomplished actors, a sparkling production. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Cold winter payments to Britain's poor may be cut

Emergency payments to help thousands of Britain's poorest pensioners and families pay for heating during cold snaps may be cut as part of the Coalition Government's spending review.

Steve Richards: Plenty of politics, but where was the economics in Osborne's speech?

Boris Johnson delivered a deftly crafted speech in which he put the case for public spending

Plan to delay Queen's Speech until 2012 sparks anger in House

The coalition government has been accused of a "major power grab" after announcing it will break more than 50 years of tradition by delaying the next Queen's Speech until 2012.

Read all about it: The secret dossier of lawbreaking that spells trouble for Rupert Murdoch...and David Cameron

Rebekah Brooks was among journalists who used a private detective who was later convicted

Sir Kenneth Clucas: Valued senior civil servant who later championed the cause of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux

Kenneth Clucas was one of the triumvirate of Permanent Secretaries appointed in the spring of 1974 when the incoming Labour Government broke up the old Department of Trade and Industry and created three departments out of it – Trade, Industry and Prices and Consumer Protection. Clucas got DPCP, not least due to a bit of wangling by Shirley Williams, the then-new Secretary of State. In her recent autobiography Climbing the Bookshelves she concludes "And that was how I came to get one of the best Permanent Secretaries in Whitehall".

US jobless figures set to raise fears of double dip

Investors are bracing themselves for another grim snapshot of the US labour market today, when the government is expected to confirm that unemployment is again on the rise.

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